Mara, PSD students in UK left in limbo as Covid-19 cases spike

Mara has advised students to remain in the country they are studying in until it obtains further instructions to bring home sponsored students.

MANCHESTER: Malaysian students in the United Kingdom, particularly in Manchester, are in a limbo, not knowing what to do next as the death toll for Covid-19 passes 1,000 while 17,000 cases were recorded in the country.

Earlier yesterday, Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein had urged Malaysians still in the UK and the United States to fly home while commercial flights are still available to avoid unnecessary complications later on.

It was understood that the advice was directed at Malaysians overseas for holidays, personal matters as well as work.

At the same time, Malaysian students under the sponsorship programme of Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) as well as the Public Service Department (PSD) were advised to remain calm and stay in their country of study.

“Students are advised to remain in their country they are studying until Mara obtains further instructions to bring home sponsored students.

“So far, there is no need to bring students back through evacuation operations like those implemented by the Malaysian government in Italy and Iran,” Mara said in a statement.

Students and parents’ concern heightened amid the number of flight suspensions worldwide. Several countries have taken measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, which included lockdowns, shutting down airports and imposing travel restrictions.

At present, there are 2,932 Mara-sponsored students overseas. According to Mara, the United Kingdom has the highest number at 902; followed by Australia with 372; India, 312; West Germany, 246; Ireland, 225; and the United States, 222.

Students have raised their concerns on their presence in the UK, especially in terms of eligibility to get treatment if they contract Covid-19.

Most of the universities have changed the mode of study as well as examination to virtual learning and online examinations.

Universities, including University of Manchester, have closed their public areas, including their offices and libraries, as a response to a partial lockdown announcement on March 23.

At the time of writing, students are still waiting for a response and clarity from the High Commission of Malaysia in London.

The World Health Organization has labelled the outbreak as a pandemic following its spread to more than 114 countries.